(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig J. Coughlin, Annette Quijano and Celeste Riley to crackdown on criminal impersonation by any means, not limited to electronic communications or the Internet was advanced Monday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Frankly, technology has progressed so rapidly that our laws simply have not kept up. Unfortunately, we have seen nationwide instances of impersonation and identity theft that have impacted individuals and families both financially and emotionally,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This legislation simply clarifies that criminal impersonation extends to the Internet and it shall be subject to criminal penalties.”
“The bill would amend the state’s identity theft statutes to impose criminal penalties on anyone found guilty of criminal impersonation or identity theft involving by any means,” said Quijano (D-Union). “These acts include but are not limited to impersonating another or assuming a false identity for the purpose of obtaining a benefit or injuring or defrauding another.”
Currently, penalties under the statute range from a crime of the fourth degree to a crime of the second degree, depending on the monetary amount of the benefit involved and the number of victims.
“Under the bill, a person commits a disorderly persons offense if he impersonates another or assumes a false identity using any medium, electronic or internet does an act in such assumed character or false identity for the purpose of injuring or defrauding another, and the offense involves the identity of one or more victims,” said Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “If the offense results in bodily injury to another or significant mental suffering or distress it would be a crime of the fourth degree.”
The Assembly approved the measure 71-0.